DELOS, delis (ancient Asnau.; CYN. THUS; ORTYGIA), the central and smallest island of the Cyclades, in the Egean Sea, a rugged mass of granite about two square miles in ex, tent. Near the centre of the island is a rocky hill, Mount Cynthas. 360 feet high.
Delos, according to old legends, was raised from the sea-bottom by Poseidon. It was then a naked rock floating about in the ocean, and was accidentally driven by the waves into the centre of the Cyclades. The earth had promised Hera (Juno), with an oath, not to grant a resting place to the fugitive Latona where she might be delivered. The • unhappy goddess wandered restlessly over the earth until she perceived the floating island. As this was not stationary, it was not comprehended in the oath of the earth, and offerdd her an asylum. Here Latona bore the infant gods Apollo (who was hence called Delios) and Artemis (who was called Delia). Both were worshipped on this island. Delos was thenceforth no longer the sport of the winds; it was moored to the bot tom of the /Egean with adamantine chains by Zeus, and the fame of the isle spread over the world. Thus far mythological tradition.
At an early period the island, occupied by the Ionians, had kings of its own, who also held the sacerdotal office. In the course of time it came under the dominion of Athens. In 477 B.C. Delos became the common treasury of the league against Persia, but the money was after ward transferred to Athens. In 426 the Athenians purified Delos by removing all the tombs, and thenceforth they prohibited births and deaths from taking place on the island. In 422 they removed all the Delians from the islind in order to complete its purification, but soon afterward these were allowed to return. After the destruction of Corinth the rich Corinthians fled thither and made Delos the seat of a flourishing commerce. Delos had a famous temple of Apollo, built of Parian marble, and containing, besides the beautiful statue of the god, a remarkable altar, from which the Delian problem (Doubling the Cube), as it is called, had its name. The inhabitants, having consulted the oracle concerning the remedy for a plague which raged in Delos, were ordered to double the altar of Apollo, which was a cube: A solution of this problem of the duplication of the cube was attempted in different ways by several of the ancient mathe maticians. The Grecians celebrated the Delian
festival here every five years; and the Athen ians performed annually the pilgrimage called with processions •and dances.
Delos was celebrated in ancient times for the number and the excellence of its artists, and workers in silver and bronze. Cicero, in his coration for Roscius, has many eulogiums upon the fine vases of Delos and Corinth. Delos, called Dili or Sdili, is now without permanent inhabitants; a few shepherds from the neigh boring islands of Mycenos and Rhenea pay it summer visits with their flocks. Some ruins of its former magnificence yet exist. Among these are remains of the temple of Apollo above referred to, of one to Latona, of an amphitheatre, etc., besides a curious primitive temple of Apollo, called the Cave of the Dragon, which is not a real cave.
In 1829 the work of exploration of the ruins began under Blouet; in 1873 Lebegue ex plored the ancient shrine and grotto on Mount Cynthus. Since 1877 the work of excavation, still under French auspices, has proceeded largely under the direction of Theophile Ho molle. The procedure has been slow and eco nomical, and the results excellent. Delos is the only ancient Greek city that remains approxi mately intact. It may almost be termed the Greek Pompeii in view of the scientific results which it has yielded. The complete plan of the sacred precinct of Apollo has been recov ered; together with the theatre, the temple on Mount Cynthus, the temples of foreign gods, and an extensive part of the commercial sec tion of Hellenistic and Roman days. Sculpture of all periods has been found in abundance, as Well as inscriptions throwing light on various points of discussion. Not the least interesting of the finds has been a series of accounts, pre senting what may be called a balance sheet, which throws light on mundane or financial side of the religious life of the time.